Chemical Kim: Science of Squishy Baff

12:03 PM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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When this unique material is put into water it makes the water "disappear" and turns everything into a gel. If all goes well I will be filling a Rubbermaid tub full of water and utilizing the "Squishy Baff" to gel during the segment, putting myself into it. I will be explaining the science behind the material and also demonstrating how to turn the gel back into water for safe disposal down the drain.

The material in the Squishy Baff:
Sodium polyacrylate is superabsorbent polymer and absorbs the water by a process called osmosis. During osmosis the water molecules pass through the large polymer molecule that is sodium polyacrylate, causing the polymer to stretch and swell to a very large size.
You can observe the physical change that takes place by letting the water evaporate and the sodium polyacrylate will return to its original size.

For the disposal:
Adding salt appears to "melt" the gel but what is actually happening is the salt breaks the polymer chain and so the water is no absorbed by the polymer.
Have fun by food coloring to the water, does that change the color of the gel? What happens if you use warm vs. cold water?

For more ideas:


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